An Unnecessarily Long-Winded Post About My Non-Existent Naming Skills
I’ve always been bad at naming things. Aside from my apps, which I will get to later in this post, all of my projects’ names have been horrible.
In 2012, I made a games website using Weebly (I was a lazy 11-year-old), which I named Canned Gamers. Where did that name come from? I wish I could tell you. Since then, it’s been through a number of different names, each iteration as bad as the last. The final name I settled on for it was “Smallcut”, sort of a pun on the then-popular flash games website, Miniclip.
I also built other websites, a web browser (which also had a terrible name), and a few other things, so eventually I wanted a way to organize all of my creations. To do this, I started a “company” (if you can even call it that), which I named “Smallcut Powers”.
In mid 2014, I wanted to clean up Smallcut Powers by redesigning it, renaming it, and moving away from Weebly. I never got around to doing it during the summer. School started, and due to a school change, I was the ‘new kid’ again (for the second year in a row). I made some friends, one of whom was @The_Emilie_C. By October, we had an inside joke that involved the word “KIAYE”. For the lulz, I decided to buy kiaye.com and make a website out of it.
One problem, I had no money in my PayPal account.
By the time I got some money in my account (just a week later), someone had bought it😒
I was slightly irritated, but I didn’t want to let the joke die, so instead, I bought kiaye.org.
As you can see, from October 23rd, 2014, to September 10th, 2017, I was left with a domain name that meant nothing to anyone except a handful of people, was unpronounceable to most, unspellable, and wasn’t even a .com domain. To this day, autocorrect still tries to correct me when I type in “Kiaye” or “Kiayeorg”, and it’s been nearly 3 years. These imperfections, though, didn’t matter, since the entire site was just for jokes.
However, kiaye.org didn’t last long in this form. I started thinking, what if I used the kiaye.org domain on a website that would replace Smallcut Powers? I had already bought the domain, so all I’d have to do is add the new content to the site!
This was a decent idea, minus the fact that no one could remember the website’s name, and even if they could, they wouldn’t remember how to spell it. But I loved that domain, and for some reason, I actually renewed it twice.
In the three years that the website has been up, the logo has changed quite a bit, and it eventually began including a crown, which evolved into the simple black crown at the top of this Medium post (but in less of a potato resolution, of course). The crown became the symbol of Kiayeorg, despite having nothing to do with the name.
Originally, the crown was just a leftover from the King Sn0wCh1ld and Emperor Sn0wCh1ld logos, but eventually, it came to represent the quality I try to build into my products.
I had always known that the domain kiaye.org was silly, but I stuck with it for the joke, and because it only had 5 characters (though that would have been more special if I had managed to get the .com). However, due to its many shortcomings, for the better part of 2017, I’ve been considering a name change. I had a few criteria for this new name, though.
It had to:
- Not be too long
- Be easily memorizable
- Use only common words
- Not use a ridiculous TLD (ex: .online or .website)
- Be relevant to what I do (mainly software development)
I also wanted it to go along with the idea presented by the crown logo, of royalty and quality, though not having a royalty-related domain name wasn’t a dealbreaker. Having a royalty-themed domain would also help the site be more consistent, with the name matching the logo.
I started coming up with names I’d like to use. However, there were a couple problems. One, all of the good .com domains were taken. Second, I was out of money. I got a little bit of money, but I used it to buy a resource that I was hoping would help me make more money. It didn’t, so I was out of money again (and still am, I have literally under $10 left for all spending purposes).
I had a total of $8.85 on PayPal, and .com domains start at $14 on GoDaddy. Normally, FatWallet has a $0.99 .com promo code for GoDaddy, but not this time. So I couldn’t afford a .com.
I searched for a domain, and I set my maximum price to $8.85. I noticed that many good domains were available with the .xyz domain, and that pretty much all of them were on sale for $1.49 for the first year ($20 starting the second year, so I hope I manage to get some money by then). That meant I had the choice of having a domain that satisfied all my criteria, while staying within my extremely limited budget!
I decided on royalapps.xyz. It satisfies all my criteria. The name only has 9 characters, which are divided into two common words that are easy to spell and remember. It uses an easy to remember TLD (who can forget the last three letters of the alphabet?), which I think will become more popular. And most important of all, it is descriptive, following the convention I started for myself with my app names, which I still use, and will continue using.
My current naming convention is to name my projects after their function. I started doing this out of frustration that many jailbreak tweaks had either seemingly nonsensical names, or names that are literally just a random word in Japanese. I couldn’t remember these tweaks’ names, and I worried that this would happen to my own projects, so I started naming my products descriptively. For example, I built an app that helps you manage your paper route. It is called Paperboy Assistant. Another one is an app that installs other apps. It is called App Installer. Finally, I built a game where you solve math equations as quickly as possible, and it’s called Speed Math. This useful convention now applies to my entire business. Hopefully, it will help potential users have an easier time finding my products, making it easier for them to improve their lives using my software.
Now that I’ve found my way with my product names, I hope every creator out there, especially software developers, find theirs. For the sake of your users (and your own benefit), I‘m asking everyone to please start using descriptive names. You’ll have more happy users that were able to find your solution, and they’ll have found a product that makes their lives easier. So unless you’re in the business of selling small cuts or kiayes, let’s leave those names unused once more😉
Note: I tagged this post with “Design”, because I believe good design includes a good name. In general, something that has good design (in my opinion), is something that is easy enough to use for a first-time-user, yet powerful enough for the most advanced user. Names can’t really be more or less powerful, but they can be simple! We should make names simple enough for anyone to remember, pronounce, and spell.